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as a “ spiritual priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifi“ces acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Thus sinners on earth are trained up for the worship of heaven; of which the highest and most delightful strain will be,“ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, « and hath redeemed us to God with his blood ;P “ Salvation to our God that sitteth on the throne, and “ unto the Lamb.” Hallelujah. Amen. The adoring praises of the heavenly host may therefore be also considered, as an affectionate expression of their longing desire, that by the gospel of Christ, the divine glory might fill the earth as well as heaven; while peace with God and with each other should be enjoyed by all its inhabitants, through the adorable good-will shewn to guilty man.
III. Then, let us endeavour to bring this matter home to ourselves by some practical deductions.
We may learn from this subject how insignificant all earthly distinctions are, in the judgment of the heavenly host. They see no glory in them, nor dishonour in the want of them. The Lord of all de. scends to dwell on earth, to be a Prince and Saviour: and angels celebrate the august event, the most important that had ever occurred from the beginning of the world. But he appears not in an imperial palace, or with the appendages of royalty ; but in a stable, and laid in a manger! And let us not forget, that this was the settled purpose of unchangeable wisdom and everlasting love; in order to pour contempt on all that splendour, which we are prone to idolize.
Not only are vanity and vexation inscribed on the pomp, wealth, and luxuries of the world, by this re
markable appointment; but they are pronounced mean, ensnaring, and polluting. We should there. fore enquire, how far our judgment coincides, in this respect, with that of angels and the Lord of angels? The rich and noble should remember that their distinctions are as withering flowers; at the same time that they are talents entrusted to their stewardship, of which a strict account will shortly be demanded. Let them not then “ be high-minded, or trust in un. “ certain riches, but in the living God.” “ Let not " the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the “ mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man “ glory in his riches.” Yea, “ God forbid that” any of us “ should glory, save in the cross of our Lord “ Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to " us, and we unto the world. *» We should well consider the words of the apostle, “ Let the brother “ of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted; but the “ rich in that he is made low.t"_"Mind not then," my brethren,“ high things, but condescend to men " of low estate :" cultivate humility, courteousness, indifference about the world, and self-denying benefi. cence, in the midst of abundance: this will abate envy, secure you from the snares and perils of your situation, and render the talents entrusted to you a blessing to many, and more abundantly to your. selves. " How hardly,” says our Lord, “ shall they “ that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" But “ the things that are impossible with men are " possible with him." Yet this consideration, should
• Jer. ix, 23, 24. Gal. vi. 14.
^ James i, 9-11,
excite in you peculiar caution, watchfulness, and prayer, that your riches may not prove the ruin of your immortal souls.
Think, my brethren, of the stable, the carpenter's shop, the feast on barley-bread, and small fishes, the well in Samaria, and of him who had not where to lay his head : that you may learn not to despise the poor, lest you reproach your Maker and disdain the Sa. viour of the world. Heavenly glory and excellency may be clad in coarse raiment, or lodged in a mean cottage. Learn not to judge of men by outward appearance; but to estimate characters according to their intrinsick worth : and let it not be thought any disparagement to prefer the company of pious Christians, who are almost as poor as their Master chose to be, above that of the most accomplished persons who are strangers to his saving grace.
And, my brethren of low degree, let me exhort you to be contented and patient in your humble condition: watch against envy, repining, covering, and distrust. Seek the true riches, “ the ornament which “ in the sight of God is of great price," the “ honour " that cometh from him," and the pure pleasures which he bestows. With these, the meanest accommodations will make your hearts thankful: and if your children be poorly provided for, and you are overlooked in times of difficulty by your neighbours; think of the virgin-mother and her holy infant in the stable; reflect on your sinfulness; and, instead of mur. muring, lift up your hearts in joyful thanksgivings: for few of you are so poor as the divine Saviour of sinners was, during the whole of his humiliation.
But, my friends, what do you think of this lowly Redeemer? Do your ideas of his dignity, excellency, love, and salvation, accord to the views of these holy angels? Or do you see in him no form or comeliness; nor any beauty for which you should desire him? Do you heartily sing “ Glory to God in the “highest, and peace on earth, good will towards "men?" Or is there nothing in this great event to excite your attention and admiration? You can never be meet for the joys of heaven, unless you learn on earth to see and admire the glories of redeeming love. The songs of angels would grate in your ears, and discompose your hearts; were it possible for you to enter the mansions of the blessed, without having felt your need of a Saviour, and acquired a disposition to love and adore him. And how will the conduct of angels, who, though they never sinned, and need no pardoning mercy or renewing grace, yet glorify God with all their powers for his love to fallen men, rise up in judgment against the ingratitude and perverse. ness of perishing sinners; who make the very condescension of Emmanuel the pretence for refusing him the glory due unto his name.
Let us also enquire, how far we resemble these beavenly worshippers in the temper of our minds. Exalted and holy as they are, they despise not sinful worms, dwelling in houses of clay; while they adored the Son of God, as tabernacling in human flesh, and thus“ made a little lower than the angels for the suf"fering of death.” They complain not of the special honour shewn to worthless man, by this union of the Deity with our nature, not with their's : they are not VOL. II.
reluctant to our felicity, and object not to our being made equal with them. Yea, they willingly and joy. fully minister to the heirs of salvation, in the meanest cottage, work-house, or dungeon ; nor do they deem the poorest believer an unmeet object of their condescending and compassionate services. This is genuine excellency: but have we been taught to resemble and imitate them? Are we thus attentive to the needy, ready to sympathize with the afflicted, and freed from selfishness, envy, and contempt of inferiors ? -Above all, let us remember and imitate “the
grace of the Lord Jesus, who though he was rich, “ for our sakes became poor; that we, through his “ poverty might be made rich.” He hath said, “ The “ poor ye have always with you; and when ye will *6 ye may do good to them.” He hath appointed his needy disciples to be his representatives and receiv. ers; that in supplying their wants we may express our love and gratitude to him, and copy his most endearing example.
This season is generally attended with an interruption of secular business, and some additional expence: yet the time and money are generally worse than thrown away, while professed Christians, like Israel worshipping the golden calf, “ sit down to eat and “ drink, and rise up to play.” But if we have a spi. ritual taste, and judge as angels do; we shall rather abridge ourselves of customary indulgences, than “ make provision for the Aesh,” when commemora. ting the humble birth of the self-denying Saviour. We shall express our joy, and employ our leisure, in acts of solemn worship and grateful praises: and in.